Celtic returned to winning ways with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Hamilton at Parkhead that will ease some of the pressure on Neil Lennon.
After going four league games without a win for the first time since 2000, the Hoops looked a bit more like their old selves against the Scottish Premiership’s bottom side.
Leigh Griffiths fired in a long-distance opener after 11 minutes and returning strike partner Odsonne Edouard added a neat second early in the second half, with the home side missing a few chances to add sheen to the scoreline.
The nine-in-a-row champions remain 23 points behind league leaders Rangers with three games in hand, the Ibrox side winning 1-0 against Hibernian at Easter Road.
Lennon, whose future has been subject to speculation in recent weeks as the quest for a 10th title became increasingly unlikely, saw improvement from his side and will enjoy the respite before starting to prepare for St Mirren at the weekend.
He brought in keeper Scott Bain for Vasilis Barkas for his first game since November and striker Edouard came in for Ryan Christie, who also dropped to the bench, while for Accies, striker Marios Ogkmpoe took over from Callum Smith.
Before the game, there was a period of silence to commemorate the death this week of former Celtic manager Jozef Venglos and former defender Johannes Edvaldsson.
The home side bossed the first half and in the ninth minute, Edouard headed a Greg Taylor cross wide of the target but the opener was only two minutes away.
Griffiths took a pass from Mohamed Elyounoussi after Kristoffer Ajer had won a tackle and before Accies defender Aaron Martin could get too close, he despatched a powerful low drive from 25 yards past Ryan Fulton and into the corner of the net.
The home side were up and running but Griffiths somehow failed to convert a cut-back from skipper Callum McGregor just yards from goal.
In the 33rd minute, Fulton blocked a drive from McGregor, who had been picked out 16 yards from goal by Taylor.
Accies, however, did have a great chance to level when Scott McMann’s cross from the left found David Moyo unmarked in front of goal but the striker sent his unconvincing effort wide.
Celtic responded with a concerted spell of pressure and Fulton touched a shot from Edouard past the post for a corner which came to nothing before saving a weaker effort from the French forward moments later.
However, the Hoops hit-man did better in the 48th minute after he was slipped in by Griffiths, taking the ball past Fulton before lofting it high into the net.
Celtic, without being at their very best, were in control as Accies worked hard to contain regular green and white surges while occasionally getting forward themselves.
Ultimately, the game drew to a satisfactory conclusion for the Hoops, battered and bruised in recent weeks, while Accies battle for survival will continue with no massive damage to confidence and perhaps some encouragement from their tenacity.
What the managers said
Celtic boss Neil Lennon: “It was a good performance. I liked the way we played and the energy and style of play.
“I was disappointed we didn’t win by more, but it’s just a very small disappointment. The attitude and enthusiasm of the players was excellent.”
Hamilton boss Brian Rice: “I thought the boys were exceptional. I’ve come here against as strong a Celtic team as possible and we’ve lost 2-0 with an early goal in the first half and an early goal in the second half but we never crumbled.
“We stuck to our plan, defended resolutely, I thought we defended fantastically well and there were a lot of good performances.”
Celtic host St Mirren at Parkhead on Saturday at 3pm, while Hamilton are not in action until next Wednesday evening when Ross County make the trip to Accies in a huge game at the bottom.